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University Relations

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April 4, 2006
Contact: Scott Harris, debate coach, (785) 864-9878.

KU debate team reaches Sweet 16 at tournament; coach earns national award

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas debaters advanced to the Sweet 16 in National Debate Tournament matches held March 24-27 at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., where KU students competed against those from the 78 top intercollegiate debate teams in the United States.

In addition, top national recognition went to Scott Harris, KU debate coach for the past 15 years, who was named the 11th recipient of the George Ziegelmueller Award given annually by the NDT Board of Trustees to a faculty member who has excelled at coaching and teaching debate. KU not only has qualified for NDT for 39 consecutive years but also has sent more teams to the national event than any other college or university.

Michigan State University won the tournament. Ranked third going into the tournament, the Michigan State team was coached by Michael Eber, a 2000 KU political science graduate. KU’s team ranked 12th going into the tournament and 19th after going into the preliminary rounds.

The KU team that made it to the Sweet 16, Matt Cormack, Lincoln, Neb., senior, and Andrew Jennings, Silver Lake sophomore, won five of eight preliminary rounds and one elimination round where they beat George Washington University before losing to a Harvard team cited as the No. 1 seed in the tournament. Cormack and Jennings defeated teams from Emory University, Dartmouth College, University of Redlands, University of Oklahoma and University of North Texas, then lost in 2-1 decisions to another Emory team, Idaho State University and Harvard.

Cormack and Jennings had received a first-round at-large bid to the NDT, which gives a bye to the top 16 teams in the country.

Another KU team that qualified for nationals, Lindsey Lathrop, Overland Park junior, and Brett Bricker, Wichita sophomore, went 4-4 in preliminary rounds and lacked the requisite five wins to qualify for final elimination rounds.

“I am pleased with the success that our team has had this year, and we look forward to another deep run next year,” Harris said. “We are losing one person to graduation. It’s been a pleasure to coach Matt the last four years. We’ll miss him a great deal. We have a lot of young talent on the team.”

Lathrop and Bricker were named co-national champions March 13 at the National Junior Division Debate Tournament. They shared the national title with another KU team of second-year debaters, Jennings and Nate Johnson, Manhattan junior. All four students have two years of eligibility remaining.

“We are pleased to have such a quality educator and coach in our department,” said Robin Rowland, chair of the communication studies department and member of the NDT Board of Trustees. “Scott Harris has consistently shown a strong commitment to educating his students and tirelessly devotes endless hours working to help the team members have competitive success.”

KU communication studies graduate students assisting Harris this year are doctoral students Jan Hovden, Lawrence; Michael Souders, Topeka; Sarah Topp, Pelican Rapids, Minn.; master’s degree student Phillip Samuels, Emporia; and Lindy Simonsen, Omaha, Neb., senior.

KU student debaters are listed below by name, hometown, level in school, major, parents and high school.

From Overland Park
Lindsey Lathrop, junior in political science, daughter of Robert and Kelly Lathrop; Blue Valley Northwest High School.

From Manhattan
Nate Johnson, junior in political science and pre-law, son of Ronald and Betty Johnson; Manhattan High School.

From Wichita
Brett Bricker, sophomore in mathematics, son of Gary and Norma Bricker; Wichita High School Southeast.

From Silver Lake
Andrew Jennings, sophomore in political science, son of Joe and Kathy Jennings; Silver Lake Junior-Senior High School.

From Lincoln
Matt Cormack, senior in economics and political science, son of Craig and Linda Cormack; Lincoln Southeast High School.


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